Friday, 14 November 2008 8:29 AM

Sir John Meets Fiji's Interim PM

African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretary General Sir John Kaputin has met with Interim Prime Minister of Fiji Commodore Frank Bainimarama in Brussels, Belgium during which both leaders' exchanged views on Fiji's plans to return to parliamentary democracy.

At the meeting, Commodore Bainimarama briefed Sir John of his intentions to carry out reforms purportedly to create a level playing field for all Fijians, regardless of race, ethnicity and creed.

The interim Prime Minister said that Fiji would hold elections as soon as the reforms are completed.

Meanwhile, Mr Bainimarama stated that the People's Charter for Change, which is now under consideration, is designed to address the unfair policies practiced by the successive governments of this Pacific Island state.

In welcoming Commodore Bainimarama, Sir John said the meeting allowed him to get the exact insight into the situation in Fiji.

He acknowledged the efforts by the Pacific Islands Forum countries to restoring democracy and constitutional order in Fiji.

Sir John, a former PNG politician for 30 years, expressed his desire to see Fiji move forward in the right path to achieve normalcy again.

He hopes that any reforms by the interim government would help to avoid any repetition of what had happened in the past to Fiji.
The country has had four coups since 1987.

Sir John told Commodore Bainimarama about his experience as a former Minister in negotiating with the EU following previous coups in Fiji, and understands the EU's concerns about the situation there, which shows their seriousness to see the return of parliamentary democracy to Fiji as well as other ACP States.

The Secretary General said that ACP is supportive of any plans to move the country forward.
"Whether the proposed dates for the coming elections are acceptable to the European Presidency and the European Commission is, of course, another matter," Sir John said.

Early this year, the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, sent a fact finding mission to Fiji, during which they met with stake holders in the country, including the interim government.

Mr Bainimarama has assured the ACP Group that everything is operating normally, with business booming.

He also reiterated that his government respects human rights and freedom of the press.

The interim Prime Minister who is also the Acting Minister of Finance is in Brussels for the 4th Meeting of the ACP Ministers of Finance & Economic Affairs and will take the opportunity to meet with the European Commission on Friday.

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